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Tools of Human Investigation (THI)

Tools of Human Investigation is a two-week rotation that focuses on clinical investigation, analytic and presentation skills, and career development. The course is offered four times throughout the academic year in order to retain a small group interactive atmosphere while ensuring that all junior residents participate. Residents do not have inpatient clinical responsibilities during the THI course. Residents are exposed to a broad array of investigators in the MGH community at all stages of their careers. At each individual session, faculty members summarize their own early career path, describe their research,and teach interpretation of the literature, presentation, writing, and research skills, exposing residents to a wide variety of research and academic careers and preparing them for leadership regardless of their chosen field.

The specific aims of Tools of Human Investigation are to:

  • Provide an overview of hypothesis generation and testing using a variety of study designs;
  • Provide introductory principles of genetics and genomic research;
  • Introduce pathways for early career development;
  • Provide all housestaff, irrespective of their interest in investigative careers with the critical thinking skills necessary to appraise the scientific literature and communicate their ideas effectively.

Residents also work on existing research projects or in small, mentored groups to develop a research question and then propose methods to test their hypotheses. Residents present their projects to faculty mentors and program leadership on the final day of the course.

Selected Recent Lectures in the THI Course

The Human Genome and Complex Genetic Traits

Lecturer: David Altshuler, MD

Clinical Trials

Lecturer: David Nathan, MD

Ethics, Informed Consent & the IRB

Lecturer: Elizabeth Hohmann, MD

Risk Adjustment for Measuring Health Care Outcomes

Lecturer: Lisa Iezzoni, MD

Selected Resident THI Research Projects


  • Assessing levels of NT pro-BNP in atrial fibrillation in the absence of structural heart disease
  • Predictors of early ESRD in cardiac transplant patients
  • HCC screening in patients with cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal outcomes of metronidazole in the elderly
  • Effect of lead positioning on biventricular pacing induced cardiac remodeling measured by 3D Echo
  • Role of nutritional education in prevention of hypercalcemia
  • EAT 2B Trial: Effect of adjuvant chemotherapy in stage 2B colon cancer
  • Thrombin generation as a marker of hypercoagulability
  • Do electronic prompts increase the frequency of AAA screening by VA Physicians?
  • Perforin polymorphism as a risk factor for lymphoma
  • Therapeutic vaccination Against HIV-1: A clinical pilot trial

Additional Information

schedule of THI lectures and activities, Fall, 2012THI Curriculum, Fall 2012



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